IKEA, Volvo Cars and ICA now have the strongest purpose among Swedish large companies

Once more, IKEA is considered to be Sweden’s most purpose-driven company. Volvo Cars and a strengthened ICA are the other two brands in the top trio of companies that are most meaningful in the lives of Swedes, according to Lynxeye’s annual study Purposeful Brands.

“IKEA holds a special position among the big companies. They are strong in all five areas that are vital for a company to be perceived as purpose-driven: Trustworthy, Future-proof, Innovative, Responsible and Visionary. Their top score is a proof of having an honest intention to lead positive change, which is our definition of what a purposeful brand is all about”, says Johan Ekelin Co-founder of Lynxeye. “We see that people increasingly tend to choose brands based on how meaningful they are in their lives and for society at large.”

Moderator Sabinije von Gaffke interviews Magdalena Gerger, CEO Systembolaget, and Klas Balkow, Group CEO Axfood at Lynxeye Executive Purpose Summit 19/20.

This is the fourth study that Lynxeye conducts and over the past years there have been movements among the big companies whereof some have improved their positions significantly. Two brands that have made quite remarkable climbs up the list this year are Vattenfall and Axfood, improving their positions with 9 and 10 steps. In a longer perspective, Vattenfall has gone from position 25 to 5 in three years.

“Vattenfall’s investment in renewable energy has made a strong impression on people who now view the brand as more responsible and visionary than before,” says Johan Ekelin. “Axfood also strengthens its attractiveness among the population, with a persistent focus on sustainability and a high level of trustworthiness as a solid foundation. We see a pattern that many of the companies that are making progress on the list are also a step ahead in the area of sustainability, as consumers increasingly expect companies to actively contribute to a better society. They are simply expected to be the winners of the future.”

The Purposeful Brands study 2019/2020 also shows that H&M is about to recover from a downturn in the previous survey, driven by a poorer perception within sustainability. The brand is climbing 10 steps on this year’s list of Sweden’s most purposeful corporate brands.

“To live more sustainably, people are focusing on a few key areas. Like fashion, food, travel and cars. If you want to be meaningful to consumers, it’s important to be one step ahead of them” says Christian Ihre, co-founder of Lynxeye. “It will be increasingly difficult to stay relevant in the future market landscape unless you help people to solve real problems in their everyday lives and in society.”

Johan Ekelin and Christian Ihre, founded Lynxeye in 1999. 

The rapid shifts in the ranking of large companies indicates that people’s perception is quickly affected by both external changes and PR crises. Companies with low trust are particularly prone to falling down the list, while companies with high trust can climb up the ladder quite quickly.

“Swedes have become increasingly sensitive to capturing signals that companies are losing relevance by not meeting people’s needs or lagging in sustainability thinking. It’s not just PR crises that cause brands to quickly lose their appeal. There is a lot to gain from being a meaningful brand with a strong purpose today, and a big risk to lose relevance quickly if you are not,” Christian Ihre concludes.


Winner of Purposeful Brands 19/20, Cecilia Fritzson Gårdnäs, Deputy Retail Manager IKEA.

Facts about the Purposeful Brands Study

  • 2000 respondents in Sweden between 18-65 years
  • Data collection via Dynata web panelists in a nationally representative sample
  • Measuring the 35 corporate brands with highest turnover in Sweden and the 35 digital services with either the most visited website or downloaded app
  • Previous studies have shown that brands having a higher purpose are characterized by five factors: being Responsible, Visionary, Trustworthy, Future-proof and Innovative
  • Each factor is made up by associations, e.g Trustworthy – Is reliable, Is honest, Has values I believe in
  • Respondents were asked to choose one or more brands that they think are best described by these associations, such as “Are thought leaders in their industry”, “Wants to achieve something for the future”, “Acts ethically right”, etc

For more information about the Purposeful Brands study, please contact Marie Carlén at